Black ice – Maccabi cool, calm and collected with 4th quarter burst to down Valencia

Dec 8, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

It took some time and plenty of effort, but Maccabi Tel Aviv finally pulled away from Valencia to take a 84-68 win to even their Euroleague record at 6-6 with a double week trip to Italy on the horizon. With the help of the home crowd, the yellow-and-blue who wore a special edition black uniform, broke the game open near the end of the third quarter with the score 49-47 as Lorenzo Brown and Darrun Hilliard hit big shots to close out the period which led to Maccabi blowing the contest open in the final frame to cruise to the win.

Maccabi upped its record at Yad Eliyahu to 6-1 on the season and will look to find their first road victory when they visit Milano and Bologna next week, however, before their continental journey they will host Bnei Herzliya in domestic league action on Saturday night. One worrying point that came out of the game is Wade Baldwin’s status as he seems to have aggravated his hamstring and may be out for a bit of time.

Nikola Vujcic – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Also, just before tipoff Maccabi great Nikola Vujcic was honored by being named a Euroleague Legend and was presented with a special trophy by Euroleague chairman and basketball great Dejan Bodiroga.

Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Oded Katash’s squad had a bit of trouble getting their offense into gear early on but their defense not only held Alex Mumbru’s team to 68 points but also forced them into 21 turnovers. From there it was Lorenzo Brown and Darrun Hilliard who returned from suspension and paced the yellow-and-blue while Jake Cohen, Roman Sorkin and Josh Nebo all picked up the slack due to the loss of Alex Poythress as the hosts rolled to the win.

Lorenzo Brown – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Brown 15 points and added 6 assists, Hilliard scored 11 points and Bonzie Colson added 10 points in the win. Xabi Lopez-Arostegui led Valencia with 15 points, Victor Claver added 13 points and Bojan Dubljevic scored 11 points in the loss.

Oded Katash – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“We did a great job putting pressure on them,” victorious coach Oded Katash said following the game. “We forced 21 turnovers, which won the game for us. We tried not to risk Wade Baldwin, and I hope [his injury] is not that serious. He felt something in his hamstring, which is what happened a week ago, but I hope it’s not serious. We need him.”

Alex Mumbru – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“It was a very tough game both defensively and offensively,” Valencia coach Alex Mumbru said. “We got back into the game with a good third quarter, but at the start of the fourth quarter they made some three-pointers to take an advantage and it was impossible for us to come back. We are missing some players and we need to adapt.”

Darrun Hilliard – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Darrun Hilliard reflected on the game, “I’m feeling blessed. It’s not easy to play this game at a high level all the time. A lot of distractions, a lot of outside noise, but I’m happy we got the win. It always feels good to play well. I want to play well for the coach and the Maccabi fans, but I put a lot of pressure on myself. I put a lot into this and really work hard when the camera’s off. I put a lot of time in, and I’m really thankful.”

Xabi Lopez-Arostegui – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

The game got off to a sluggish start as Maccabi couldn’t hit the target from deep while the trio of Bojan Dubljevic, Xabi Lopez-Arpstegui and Jared Harper all found points from downtown. An inspired the yellow-and-blue began to do the same as both John Dibartolomeo and Austin Hollins found nothing but net from beyond the arc to go along with buckets by Josh Nebo and Lorenzo Brown to take a 15-10 lead after ten minutes of play.

Darrun Hilliard – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Maccabi’s offense started to get into gear in the second quarter with some spectacular buckets from Nebo’s alley-oop off a Baldwin feed while Darrun Hilliard did the same for Jarell Martin. Bojan Dubljevic and Victor Claver countered to try to keep Valencia close but Jake Cohen put in yeoman’s work with a corner 3-ball as the shot clock wound down to give Oded Katash’s crew a 35-27 advantage at halftime.

Lorenzo Brown – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

The yellow-and-blue started to pull away to begin the third quarter as Brown and Baldwin both dialled up long distance but a barrage of points by Alex Mumbru’s team from Arostegui, Dubljevic, Jasiel Rivero and Klemen Prepelic to cut the lead to 49-47 but Brown went from deep and Hilliard posted in a basket to keep the hosts ahead 53-47 with one frame to go.

Roman Sorkin – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Maccabi didn’t let the end of the third quarter go to waste and picked up right where they left off as Roman Sorkin put down a big time dunk and added points in the paint while Brown did the same as the rout was on as Cohen and Hilliard also came up with baskets as the game wound down and the hosts put away Valencia for their 6th home win in seven.

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